Winchester & Francis Rule Sonoma
The second race of the day was a fairly straightforward affair. Winchester led from the start in TC but with Sandberg second, it was a battle between the Compass360 teammates all day.
Sandberg’s charge was ultimately thwarted by hitting slower traffic at exactly the wrong points. He never had the direct opportunity to make a passing attempt on Winchester; that said, it was a clean, fair fight between the pair. Winchester held on for this win by 1.411 seconds at an average speed of 77.113 mph.
“I was able to break a little bit earlier then everybody else, since I was in the lead,” Winchester said of his ability to save his tires for the second race. “So I was able to do so, where I could let them eat up some of the ground in the braking zones, and it didn’t really cost me that much. I just got to run my own pace that really helped me conserve tires.”
Sandberg thanked Winchester for the clean fight after his second runner-up finish of the day.
“I got hurt in traffic a lot in the second race but overall a really good run,” he said. “The cars are really consistent. Ryan ran a really good race as well. I tried to get Ryan under braking a couple of times. With two evenly matched cars, it’s tough to make your move.”
The top TC battle in Round 12 came down to Ruscitti versus Emich for third. Emich led him most of the day but lost the position on the final lap. Emich ran off line at Turn 9 – the same corner where the TCB last lap lead change had occurred in Round 11 – and Ruscitti snuck through to score his second podium of the day and complete the C360R triple podium encore.
In TCB, Francis Jr. enjoyed a more conventional drive from the front of the field. With Davis struggling to just a fourth place result, this was a big win from a points standpoint.
“The beginning was pretty easy, but then towards the middle and the end of the race I got slowed down by every single TC car that went by me,” Francis Jr. said. “They were dive bombing me into turns and it started to make me fall back and back.”
Palmer finished second to score his sixth podium finish in seven Pirelli World Challenge TCB starts this year. He got into second on Lap 4, with a pass on Lipperini that earned him the Cadillac Move of the Race award for Round 12. An earlier pass on Ernie Francis Sr. netted him the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race award.
In this race, Palmer was nearly able to close the gap to Ernie Francis Jr., but could have used a caution to score his first win. He ultimately ended 1.362 of a second short.
“On the second race on the start, I got a pretty good start but was stuck behind a little bit behind by a few cars,” he explained. “By the time I got around them Ernie Francis Jr. was ahead. I hit all of my marks, ran him down but finished second.”
Lipperini ended Round 12 in third, holding off a late charge from Davis. This marks the fifth consecutive race he’s finished either third or fourth in the competitive TCB field.